Getting Crafty For A Cause

Imagine a hospital nursery full of babies wearing red hats. That’s the dream of the American Heart Association (AHA) this February, which is American Heart Month. Together with thirteen of New Hampshire’s birthing hospitals, they have launched the ‘Little Hats, Big Hearts’ program and they are looking for support from the crafting community.
Their goal is to raise awareness of heart disease, the number one killer of Americans, and congenital heart defects, the most common type of birth defect in the country.
The ‘Little Hats, Big Hearts’ program started with a handful of volunteers in Chicago hand making just 275 red knit caps to be given to newborns in the month of February. By the second year, the Chicago AHA office saw the count of red knit caps soar to over 30,000, as volunteers from around the world began flooding the office with little hats and heartfelt wishes for these newborns and their families. Today, “Little Hats, Big Hearts” has expanded to more than thirty four states.
“Early identification for congenital heart disease is associated with improved childhood health outcomes,” said Bonnie Whalen, MD newborn nursery Medical Director at the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD) “Universal screening has been effective in helping identify congenital critical heart disease prior to newborn discharge but does not identify all heart disease.  Participating in this initiative will help raise awareness in our newborn population, encouraging us as providers to discuss signs of congenital heart disease with families prior to discharges, and/or will encourage families to ask questions regarding this topic”.
Joining Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in this inaugural effort, participating hospitals include Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital, Androscoggin Valley Hospital, Catholic Medical Center, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Elliot Hospital, Exeter Hospital, Frisbie Memorial Hospital, Littleton Regional Healthcare, Memorial Hospital, Parkland Medical Center, Portsmouth Regional, Southern NH Medical Center, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Wentworth Douglas.
In order to fulfill the anticipated 900 births in February, they are asking for local donations from people who knit or crochet. More information about the program is available at

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